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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
916 articles written by Shannon


So today is the day that Traditionally Fermented Foods is available to all. To mark the occasion, I just wanted to share why, when my publisher asked me what I wanted to write about, I chose food fermentation.


The thing about fermented foods that I would tell everyone, if I could, is that there isn’t just one thing about fermented foods that makes them miraculous. It is their health-giving properties, making vegetables and dairy full of probiotics and enzymes; grains and legumes easier on our systems. It is the ability to preserve all manner of foods while enhancing vitamins and retaining minerals. It is the ease with which these age-old practices turn a kitchen into a life-giving, sustainable food system. And what brings it all together is the absolute deliciousness that fermentation imbues into every meal of the day.


I really believe the practice of fermentation is a gift to the home cook and most especially the homesteader. Fermentation has been in my life for over a decade now and has taught me the importance of living food, how to use fermentation to preserve food without refrigeration, and how to turn homegrown, local foods into the most delicious part of every single meal and snack throughout the day.


Traditionally Fermented Foods is all that I know and love about this age-old practice. It is 85 delicious recipes but it is also a guide to harnessing the biology of this natural process to preserve the nutrients in vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy while making them an absolute delight even to the pickiest eater. My hope is that it would inspire and inform your own pursuit of traditional foods, homegrown health, and sustainable food ways.

And, fifteen months after I began this work, it is now available for your own home kitchen.


You guys, I no longer have a laundry pile; it is now a laundry wall. It is probably six feet tall which means I can barely reach the top myself. But I’m okay with that.


We are now at the point in the rain cycle where doing laundry in town seems imminent. Pond water, however, has been busy making these summer squash grow.

The green beans too seem to be doing alright and not one of them has complained of dirty aprons or stinky socks.

The cilantro is at two stages. The first is this lovely flowering stage which the Pallet Garden is now full of, tucked in around lettuce and tomatoes and comfrey. The other is the volunteer stage which I am finding all around where the previous year’s cilantro sat.


And while a salad or two per day is a foregone conclusion with the lettuce in Abram’s garden and ours, these peas are kind of hogging the limelight right now.pea-pod

We pick the big ones for shelling but that pea to the top right that has not started to fatten at all, they are pretty much snap peas so we eat those as well. Some go into salads but with pickers big and small, they rarely make it past the snack stage.


But I figured out why the laundry wall is here and probably not going anywhere anytime soon. We have some tomatillos that don’t seem to want to grow, a patch each of cucumbers and cantaloupes that need weeding, a small patch of collards that might be pulling through, and potatoes that need hilling. So I guess I choose gardening, when I can.


I don’t believe anyone who says “Just grow your own, it’s easy!“. But sometimes I really wonder about eight-year-old Abram. That chicken field is still getting hay spread over it and awaiting a possible planting in black-eyed peas. But… Abram snuck out there and planted a pumpkin patch when I wasn’t looking. There might be ten or twelve of them coming up and doing just fine, it seems, in some of the hardest subsoil we have around here.

Speaking of which… For months now I have wondered at his greens growing with gusto; his radishes ready long before it seemed reasonable. Well, last week I think he finally dropped the bombshell I’d been waiting for.

Poop! Buckets full of broken down goat poop. There is little more exciting in the agrarian world to me than a pile of poop and when Abram spilled the beans on the goldmine he’d been raking up in the pasture, I couldn’t believe my ears. How could we have such goodness – and in use on his own garden, no less – without him ever sharing a peep?!

So the secret is out, friends. Naturally, the next day I promptly had him carry over as many buckets of that compost as he could scrounge up. And then there is the pile of chicken manure I’ve been working at….

So I may be up past my eyeballs in dirty laundry, but I’m also happily up to my waste in manure. As to which of those two piles is the more offensive; I’ll let you be the judge.